MacDraft v. 4.4
Review by Gary Coyne
In 1984 there were two vector-based programs for the Mac:
MacDraw and MacDraft. MacDraw was a drawing program and
MacDraft was the first CAD
program for the Mac and remains one of the strongest of
the mid level CAD programs.
MacDraft has been around for so long that it is often
discounted or assumed long gone. To make it a bit more
challenging, Microspot has elected not to sell the software
via "normal" channels (i.e., your typical mail order
companies). This was done because Microspot felt that the
technical support people received from the typical mail
order company was sufficiently bad enough to warrant pulling
their product and selling MacDraft (and all their other
products) themselves and via controlled channels.
Because of this limitation, MacDraft is often overlooked.
MacDraft should not be overlooked.
Still sporting one of the easiest toolbars to figure out
of any drawing program, the components are so logically
laid out that once you have perused them for a few minutes,
there is no question which item you need to draw an object.
As seen in the MacDraft Toolbar graphic, every selection
with a triangle in the corner has a variety of subsequent
selections., Straight lines can be free or constrained to
degrees. You can also select your circles by radius,
diameter and three points. Non-straight lines can be drawn
via pencil, spline, or Bezier. The eyedropper not only
collects selected colors, but attributes as well. Using the
circle or radii tool, you can also select parallel circle or
radii lines that emanate from the same points as the
original. The parallel linetool is used for making walls.
All basic, all logical. The Special "Line Tools" (just to
the right of the Line selection) displays various tangent,
perpendicular, and parallel options.
None of these features by themselves are unique, albeit
some of them are much easier to use than other drawing
programs. What is interesting is how easy these features are
to use in a CAD program. In one commonly used Mac CAD
program, you need to predetermine the nature of the straight
line you plan to draw before it is drawn. With MacDraft, you
just draw the line: "click-drag-let go." If you want to
change the line after you draw it, you just grab onto a
handle and change the line. Even the simple round-corner
rectangle is easier to use than any other typical drawing
program. After drawing a round-corner rectangle, there are
nine handles: one for each corner
(4) and one for each side (4), and a final ninth
handle for resizing the radius of the corner. One simply
drags this handle until the proper sized radii of the corner
All measurements of items can be done by either dragging
a handle (and visually observing the results), dragging a
handle and observing the changes in the "Show Size" box that
dynamically changes as you create (or change) an object's
size, or in the "Resize" box where you can type in the
desired size you wish, select where on the object one wishes
the expansion or contraction from and click "OK."
One of the biggest improvements over the years is the
Alignment Options. Typically when you wish to align with
(say) the tops of objects, both objects end up moving to a
happy medium. With MacDraft, not only does the reference
object not move, but you can request the bottom of your
object to align with the top of your reference object. There
are many other options available with aligning objects but
suffice it to say the alignment options are very powerful.
There is layer capability where the layers can be greyed
or hidden when not being used, and you can limit printing to
selected layers. This can be especially practical when you
want to provide a drawing without measurements or comments
to someone but require the measurements for your own needs.
MacDraft is also customizable. One of the menu selections
is Shortkeys. Shortkeys allows you to assign any menu
selection to an f-key on your keyboard for easy access.
MacDraft can also export predetermined data to Excel.
Thus, if you have identified various structures
(subcomponents) and provided cost information to these
objects, these subcomponents can be exported to Excel for
spreadsheet manipulating of the totals of quantities, costs,
There are many more features I could praise.
New features in version 4.4 include MacDraft's
compatibility with AutoCAD (it supports DWG), compatibility
with OS 9, export capability of JPEG, BMP, Photoshop, PICT,
and Quicktime, added duplication without offset, and a few
other items to improve stability.
They are being somewhat disingenuous when they claim the
export JPEG feature allows one to post to the web. This is
one of those claims that is true, BUT! JPEG is used as a
format for saving photographs for the web, not line
drawings. For line drawings (or items with few colors like a
button), GIF is the recommended format. Also, there is no
mechanism to reduce the size of the drawing. So, this is
something that you can do, but you shouldn't. In addition,
line drawings look much better on the screen if they are
anti-aliased. MacDraft cannot anti-alias. To make the
drawing below, I exported the drawing in DXF format, opened
the drawing in Illustrator, saved it in Illustrator format
and then moved it to Imageready for final conversion into a
reduced size GIF file.
Regrettably, there are a few limitations.
There are no more color options than there were ten years
ago: 80 colors. (One can "make" additional colors by mixing
the colors provided.) Fills are limited to bit-mapped
images. You can design and create new designs, but these new
designs will be bit-mapped as well.
You cannot set preferences for dimensions as hairlines or
arrows outside as a default. Thus, you need to make this
change as the drawing is under way or at the very end. (You
can perform a "Select Special-hairlines" and then perform a
global correction, but if you then subsequently add more
hairlines, you have to remember to fix those as well.)
Likewise, there should be a key command option for
placing dimensioning arrows outside leader lines. The
default is inside, and you need to manually change this
every time you need an exception.
Despite the limitations, MacDraft is a solid CAD program.
The above drawing (Short path distillation apparatus*) took
me about one hour to draw and dimension. It is an accurate
1:1 scale drawing that when constructing the item, the final
product will match the drawing exactly. One might be able to
draw this item in Illustrator or Freehand, but it would not
be a scale drawing and thereby would have limited value in
industry or the home shop.
*(The above drawing has been anti-aliased and decreased
in size for web presentation and will not print properly.)
[For those who don't know, one
of the basic differences between a drawing program and a CAD
program is that a CAD program has accurate scaling. There
are many other differences, but accurate scaling is often
considered one of the basic differences that separate the
two types of programs. Both types of programs are vector
based, and both have rulers. But if you drew something in
one drawing at a 1:2 ratio and then copied and pasted into a
drawing of 1:5 ratio, the original drawing would decrease in
size proportionally. That is impossible with a drawing
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
.Functional Neutral,” Quill Mouse Now Listed On GSA Section 508
Special Report: Coming MS Explorer a Problem for Websites with Active Content
Spam Is Starting To Hurt Email - New Pew Report
.Toast 6 Titanium
Extensis pxl SmartScale
Super GameHouse Solitaire Collection
.Game On Eileen Part II (or, Hello, Obsidian, how's the wife?)
Charles Moore Reviews The Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite 2004 [Link Fixed!]
Kevin Murphy: Author, Moviegoer, Robot
.[an error occurred while processing this directive]
.[an error occurred while processing this directive]